Bolt-A-Thon: The affordable Lightning Network conference & hackaton

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Between the 5th and the 7th of April 2019, two of the most popular trends in crypto (namely, conferences and the Lightning Network) join their forces to allow technology enthusiasts and developers to learn more from reputed mentors.

The organizers of Bolt-A-Thon present their event as “the world’s first virtual Lightning Network conference and hackaton” and promise to offer three educational days under the guidance of experienced developers like Rusty Russel of Blockstream, Alex Bosworth and Conner Fromknecht of Lightning Labs, Node Launcher creator Pierre Rochard, Lightning Chess and Satoshi’s Place developer Lightning Koala, and BTC Pay engineers Rockstar Dev and Britt Kelly.

A conference in the spirit of Lightning

Unlike most conferences, which come with travelling and accommodation costs for all the participants, Bolt-A-Thon is different and takes place in the native environment of Bitcoin and Lightning: the internet. Accordingly, all the presentations and discussions will take place on livestream.

There is also something novel about the payment methods, and this is specifically designed in the spirit of the Lightning Network: though you can pay 2.5 million satoshis (0.025 BTC, or approximately $100) to watch all the panels, you are free to individually choose only the speakers that you prefer and find most interesting.

Given this format, you can simply send a LN payment of 250 thousand sats ($10) to see Pierre Rochard and then simply tune in at 3PM PST. Or maybe pick Alex Bosworth’s seminar at 10:30 AM. Or perhaps you’d rather have both for 500 thousand sats ($20).

You can choose from hundreds of different combinations which allow you to spend any amount between 250k and 2.5 million sats to watch the presentations of any number of the ten panelists. This is great news because now we’re finally being introduced to an instant way to do empowering microtransactions where we only pay for what we want to watch – as opposed to attending and paying for an entire event.

Furthermore, the Bolt-A-Thon enables more participants’ privacy than any other conference: making the payment requires no e-mail address or name sign-up. Instead, you’re getting a code which allows you to join the Zoom meetings. It’s a nifty feature which follows the cypherpunk ethos of the community.

This is really special in the case of conferences, as many such gatherings and events feature speakers that some attendees may find uninteresting, boring, or irrelevant for their interests – which is perfectly fine. And this model will definitely inspire more events to adjust their pay-per-view integration in order to take advantage of Lightning’s features.

A hackaton for Lightning builders

If you’re a developer, have a great idea for a Lightning project, and want to work alongside other brilliant minds from the field, then you may join the Bolt-A-Thon for only 100 satoshis (less than 1 cent). However, running your own node and proving your eligibility are fundamental requirements.

As a developer, you will become part of a team and receive the proper instructions on the 5th of April, and then have two days to build your project. At the end of the event, after all the keynote speeches have been held and all the lines of code have been written, each team will present its project for ten minutes.

Moving on, there will be a voting process in which the judge panel (consisting of speakers and sponsors) and the participating teams each hold 50% of the power to decide. The three main scoring criteria are theme adherence, real world use case, and wow factor, so it’s important for teams to take these factors into account even before starting their projects.

The winners who make the podium by convincing both the judges and their peers of the prowess they possess, will get digital gold medals: 0.3 BTC for the first prize, 0.2 BTC for the second prize, and 0.1 BTC for the team that earns the 3rd spot.

Why the Bolt-A-Thon matters

This conference is the first of its kind and truly takes advantage of all the features of the Lightning Network: from allowing viewers to only pay for what they’re willing to watch to anonymous sign-ups, everything is as cypherpunk as can get.

The Bolt-A-Thon also manages to assembly some of the biggest names in the field and create a payment system through which every speaker keeps 80% of the satoshis they’re bringing (at least according to the Media Q&A document).

It’s also great that developers receive a unique chance to show off their skills and great ideas, and the jury consists of both sponsors who can take the projects to the next level and more experienced peers who are available to give precious advice. If we want Lightning to truly show its full potential, then every good contribution should be encouraged and nurtured until the moment when it accomplishes its goal.

Without a question, this is only the beginning of such events. In the future, we can imagine other online conferences using the same micropayment features to empower users and make the speakers actually stay competitive. Or maybe we can envision pay-per-view events where you only pay for the matches that we are specifically interested to see. Or a Netflix which allows you to watch the second half of a film, without a monthly subscription. The possibilities are endless.

Lightning Network is here to stay, and it’s getting stronger by the day. So if you’d like to witness history taking place, then maybe you should tune in for the Bolt-A-Thon between the 5th and the 7th of April 2019.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

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